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Racism In Colleges Essay Research Paper Racism

Racism In Colleges Essay, Research Paper

Racism in Colleges

Racism has been a steady problem all through time. One of the most

troublesome areas of racism is in places of education. Finding a cure for this

would be a major step towards ending racism in general. No one has ever thought

of a solution yet, and racism will be strong as long as there isn’t one.

It all started back when the colonists traded certain goods for slaves.

They had never seen a black person before and thought of them as lower human

beings because they did all of the colonists’ work for them. Since blacks were

so low, they were never given a good education.

This lack of education continued throughout the centuries. Even in the

1700’s slaves were never taught how to read or write. In the 1800’s everyone’s

feelings about slavery, good or bad, culminated in one big war, the American

Civil War. During this period, the slaves really tried to break free from their

past stereotypes. A small percentage of them taught themselves to read and write

and they began to teach others.

Some blacks even fought in the Civil War. The most educated were

selected and several black units were formed. Once the North had defeated the

South in the war, the slaves were freed from bondage, however, that did not mean

that they would be free from the terrible prejudice that still permeated the


Schools sprang up in all black areas but were not given the public

funding that they needed and deserved. They were usually only one room and very

dirty. They were given the oldest and most worn out books and equipment that

were available. There weren’t even many teachers who were qualified and were

willing to teach at an all black school. Even though education was instituted

for African Americans, which was a step in the right direction, it was a very

small step and still didn’t give blacks the education they deserved.

This treatment prevailed for many years after the Civil War. A new

concept, segregation , evolved and was predominant from the late 1800’s through

the first half of the 1900’s. Whites assumed that they were better than black

people and didn’t want to be around them in anything they did. For example, in

buses, whites were given privileged seating in front; but blacks had to sit in

the back. Moreover, if there were not enough front seats whites could preempt

blacks from their back seats. There were separate restrooms, drinking fountains,

stores and, of course, schools.

Segregation remained the same for many years until one day in 1955 a

black woman named Rosa Parks sat down in the front of a bus where all of the

white people were sitting. When she was told to move to the back of the bus, she

refused to budge. This action set off an uproar among blacks who questioned

their rights for the first time.

In the 1960’s, the governor of Alabama, George Wallace, was a militant

supporter of segregation. In 1963 two blacks, Vivian Jones and James Hood,

sought admission to the traditionally segregated University of Alabama.

According to legislation at the time, they had every right to go there; but

since the governor was so anti-black and pro segregation, he didn’t like it one

bit. As the two black students prepared to enter the college, George Wallace

stood in the doorway, blocking their way addressing the need for segregation. He

refused to move, so the national guard was called in to restore order and admit

Jones and Hood to the University of Alabama. This was an important moment in

black history because it marked the first time a black person had been admitted

into an all white college.

Although laws pertaining to civil rights were enacted that ended

segregation, hatred and racism still continued; and it appears to be even

stronger now than it ever has been. Today there is no legal segregation in

colleges but a recent study revealed that most southern colleges remain


In this day and age, there are many diverse ethnic groups and cultural

backgrounds that populate the same colleges. With this great amount of people,

there is naturally much tension between the many groups. From this tension

arises the hate groups on college campuses. Whether they are against whites,

blacks or any other groups, they cause many problems in the steady flow of


Although everyone has the freedom of speech, even if the majority

disagrees with it, they do not have the freedom to do whatever they want to

fellow human beings. These hate groups become uncontrollable when they assault

or desecrate things that other races value. In October 1995, two black students

from Rowan College in New Jersey were beaten on the college campus by a couple

of white football players. The fight occurred at the Study Hall pub when racial

slurs were used against the black students. When the black students asked them

to quit with the verbal assault, the football players drug them out to the

football field and began to beat them until someone saw it happening. It was

stopped immediately and the football players were escorted away. The two

students suffered minor injuries and have recovered. The football players were

kicked off the team and may even be suspended from the college if charges are


This is just one example of the racial prejudice in colleges, even in a

small college of 9,000 students. In a larger school the problems are

understandably magnified. At Rutgers University in February, the school was

racked with controversy. The president of Rutgers, Francis L. Lawrence, was

caught saying that black students do worse on the SAT tests because they are

genetically inferior to other students, particularly white ones. This incident

spurred a protest on the floor of a basketball game between Rutgers and UMass at

half-time. Soon hundreds of classmates streamed onto the court, forcing the

suspension of the game. The one black woman, who started it, is now known as the

Rosa Parks of Rutgers. Lawrence was not reprimanded for his comments but this

shows that even the leaders of schools are not free of prejudice.

But, most of the time it does not matter how large the school is, just

how many students are involved in the riots. Probably one of the biggest school

riots in history was at the University of Massachusetts on October 27, 1986. The

World Series had just ended, where the New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox.

Hundreds of students, many of them drunk, came pouring out of their dorms. White

Red Sox fans began taunting and shoving black Mets fans. After a while, a huge

mob of 3,000 whites were running all over the campus, chasing and beating anyone

they saw who was black. Luckily, only ten of the black students were severely

injured, but that was ten too many.

Black students now are facing the same oppression in schools as there

was many years ago. Groups such as the Nazi skinheads make it very difficult for

blacks to get a good education because they are constantly worried about being

verbally or even physically assaulted. This, however, could be part of the

problem says Shelby Steele, a black professor of English at San Jose State

University. He says that because of black feelings of inferiority, people have

exaggerated the level of racism on some campuses and that blacks should try to

move on with their lives rather than be pulled down to a lower level of petty

fighting. “Instead of demonstrating for a black ‘theme house,’ black students

might be better off spending their time reading and studying.”

This kind of hatred is not peculiar to the colleges alone. Many

teenagers who are either in the hate groups or have a lack of faith in equality

are made this way through their high schools. Many high schools are either all

black or all white and influence the way that teens think. The all black schools

even resemble the schools of old. They have minimal funding and substandard

equipment. They are always in the worst neighborhoods and are filled with drugs

and violence. In all white high schools, on the other hand, students are not

accustomed to being around blacks. This might be one of the reasons that blacks

and whites do not mix well in colleges.

In 1994, a principal from an Alabama high school opposed interracial

couples’ attending his school’s prom. The students and parents protested, saying

that the kids had the right to take whoever they wanted to prom. Although he was

fired as principal, his ideas have left their mark, that students should stay

away from other races. He probably isn’t the only principal or authority figure

that thinks this way. When students learn this behavior from high school and

their parents they take it on to college with them.

When these diverse backgrounds get mixed together in college, many

confrontations occur. The movie Higher Learning is a great example of the way

many college campuses are today. There are many groups of students going to the

same school, ranging from whites to blacks to Asians and different religions

such as Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc. Of course, there are even hate groups. In

the movie, a group of neo-nazis do not want to have anything to do with the

blacks or Jews who go to that college. Usually the blacks tend to stay away from

the group so as not to be a part of a fight but one can only take so much. There

are numerous beatings and verbal assaults against the blacks; and, when they try

to fight back the police always take for granted who started the fighting, and

arrest the black “troublemakers”. By the end of the movie, there is a peace

march on the campus and the nazis don’t like it. The group persuades one of the

members to go to the top of a large building with a gun and open fire on the

peace marchers. He does and a black woman ends up getting shot. Her boyfriend

runs to the top of the building and proceeds to beat the nazi. The cops find

them both, drag the black man off and start to beat him as if he just picked a

fight for no reason! As the cops approach the white student, he becomes

frightened and sticks the gun in his mouth. He says if they come any closer he

will shoot himself. The movie ends with him actually shooting himself, which

goes to show the confusion that most of these people have. Most of them probably

don’t even know why they hate, they just know that is what they were brought up

to think so it must be right. Obviously that is not the case. Even though this

movie was fiction, the type of college campus it portrays is not. These kind of

things are happening everywhere, and most of them aren’t even publicized.

When one goes to college one would expect to go there to learn but that

is not always the case, as often seen on the news. Although there is widespread

violence in college, it does not go unpunished.

Many of these beatings and riots that are going on in recent times are

broken up by the police before anyone seriously gets hurt. The people who

partook in the crimes are usually apprehended and punished for their actions.

Some people would say that the offenders are not punished well enough, because

there has not been a decline in violence as of late. The court system has done

little in improving the life on college campuses. A lot of the cases brought up

are simply forgotten about because of “more important matters.” It is just a

mere excuse on their behalf to support these kind of racist actions. “University

administrators at many campuses prefer to ignore racial incidents or keep them

out of the news.” This kind of thinking is increasing the gap between races and

putting more fuel on the fire of racism. This is not always the case, as seen in

the Rowan College, Rutgers and UMass events. But, even when they show some

action toward ending racism through fair decisions, there is a limit to what

they can do. According to the first amendment, the hate groups that are formed

do have a right to march, protest and show what they believe in. There is no law

against having a nazi flag or being a skinhead, but there are laws to prevent

slander and violence. That is where the human nature of peacemaking comes in to


Nearly every human wishes deep in their heart for peace on earth, with

the exception of those who take part in the hateful actions mentioned before.

Past peacemakers such as Martin Luther King Jr. have struggled and even given

their lives for the cause of peace; and because of this, blacks have a lot more

rights and a higher acceptance in society than they did 30 or 40 years ago. But

they still do not have the full respect they deserve as fellow human beings, so

more work is needed. Although nothing can be done about existing hate groups

existence, there is hope for the next generation of people to be a lot more

open-minded. The only way for that hope to be realized is if all the people of

the nation, and even the world, band together and stop racism before it starts.

By educating young children and bringing them up to know the difference between

reality and ignorance. Programs are already in place in most schools that are

not bias against other races or genders. If there is a school that is

predominantly black or Spanish, courses are set up to meet the needs of the

children. Spanish and Spanish History are taught to Spanish children and black

culture and history are taught to black children. “Even in colleges, many

students are encouraged to take a course in ethnic studies or cultural diversity

which are often taught by newly hired minority faculty members.”

If these children are taught the correct values that should have been

taught a long time ago, then they can grow up to be leaders of a new, equal

nation that gives everyone an even chance at life and free from hatred. In the

meantime, the laws should be increased against any kind of hate crime,

especially in schools. To many of these offenses are slipping through the cracks

of the court system without any kind of punishment whatsoever. No form of racial

abuse should be tolerated in the slightest and if offenders knew this, then

maybe it would mark the beginning of the end of racial injustice.

Today’s current status is, sadly to say, very much unchanged from the

eighties and early nineties when a lot of the bad incidents occurred. There is

still much to be done and hopefully much to look forward to.

I, for one, would like to see an end to all of this violence and hatred

that is ripping the country apart. If everyone could put aside their differences

and look at their similarities they have with other people, then this world

would be a better place. I think it is really unfortunate what is going on with

today’s schools. School is supposed to be a place where people are educated and

taught so that they would not be ignorant to all areas of learning, not a place

where ignorance thrives and real education is only handed out to those who have

white skin, or those who are fortunate enough to afford a good college. No one

should have to put up with any form of abuse, especially when they are trying to

learn and make something of themselves so that they can have an equal chance for

success in the future. Perhaps if everyone would have a positive outlook on this

problem in the future, there will be an end to all of the violence and hatred in

our nation’s schools and everywhere else that this pestilence exists.